Thomas Hardy

(2 June 1840 – 11 January 1928 / Dorchester / England)

Genoa and the Mediterranean (March, 1887)


O epic-famed, god-haunted Central Sea,
   Heave careless of the deep wrong done to thee
When from Torino's track I saw thy face first flash on me.

   And multimarbled Genova the Proud,
   Gleam all unconscious how, wide-lipped, up-browed,
I first beheld thee clad--not as the Beauty but the Dowd.

   Out from a deep-delved way my vision lit
   On housebacks pink, green, ochreous--where a slit
Shoreward 'twixt row and row revealed the classic blue through it.

   And thereacross waved fishwives' high-hung smocks,
   Chrome kerchiefs, scarlet hose, darned underfrocks;
Since when too oft my dreams of thee, O Queen, that frippery mocks:

   Whereat I grieve, Superba! . . . Afterhours
   Within Palazzo Doria's orange bowers
Went far to mend these marrings of thy soul-subliming powers.

   But, Queen, such squalid undress none should see,
   Those dream-endangering eyewounds no more be
Where lovers first behold thy form in pilgrimage to thee.

Submitted: Saturday, January 04, 2003

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